Growing disciples, growing disciples

2015-15.4

Matthew 28:18-19

THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2015

It’s a journey. We’re on it together. And we know who we’re following…

Your call and mine

SO FAR in this thread we have talked a lot about going, about mission being our purpose, looking beyond our comfort zone and so on. This is part of the command of Jesus. In the days when ‘mission’ was a synonym for ‘overseas mission’ – the thinking being that in a basically Christian country the mission would be elsewhere – this was a favourite verse.

Our mission is to make disciples. In the rendering of The Message:

Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life… instructing them in the practice of all I have commanded you… I’ll be with you…

In the expression “Go and…” the phrase emphasises what follows. It has the sense of not deliberating but getting on with it. What is not to be deliberated on too much, is the reaching others and encouraging them in the Way. Jesus had shown the Twelve and a wider circle how to have intimacy with the Father and with Him, with each other (working through some pride issues on the way!) and how to find ‘people of peace’ in mission ventures that emphasised meeting people’s needs.

Those needs were fairly graphically set out in all three narrative gospels e.g. the beginnings of Luke 9 and 10 (Luke 9:1-6; Luke 10:1-11). This is what they were to do:

  1. Travel light and accept the hospitality offered
  2. Proclaim the kingdom of God
  3. Drive out demons
  4. Heal people everywhere
  5. Expect some rejection and have a strategy for it

What do disciples of Jesus do? Is this about Bible knowledge and preaching skills? Yes, but going by the list above, reflecting Luke’s accounts, that is only 20% of the list. What do we do? Turn it the other way around so that the focus is on a congregation gathering to hear an evangelistic message.

Not that I am against that in the least. I am a preacher, and God uses this medium, sometimes powerfully. But proclaiming the kingdom, the just rule and order of the Father, must go hand in hand with demonstrating the kingdom, confronting the oppression that affects so many and the particular oppression of health issues. Go and find me some more multi-skilled people to carry on My work, Jesus is saying.

What else was distinctive about Jesus’ disciples?

  • They were known as those who had been “with Jesus” (Mark 3:14; Acts 4:13)
  • They took part, with with some failures along the way, in healing, delivering and explaining God’s kingdom order to people
  • They lived for others, as Jesus did, simply and without the robes and tassels of office
  • They were flexible about where the mission would take them
  • They had an expectation that God was at work and would act.

Jesus was about to ascend when he spoke the words about going and making disciples. He would not be seen again (except in rare visions). He needed people to carry on and extend the work. The ones who had been with Him and had that expectation of being able to join what God was doing and Him working through them, were to encourage, train and mentor others.

The call hasn’t changed. We are the ones who do our best to be ‘with Him’, who know Him and have the expectation that He is the same yesterday, today and for ever. We are called, not to make our own disciples or create our own empires, but to continue to proclaim the kingdom of God and to have that expectation of being able to show it to be real.

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